Tag Archives: December

Premier League Rewind: 17th-19th December 2016

Results: Crystal Palace 0-1 Chelsea, Middlesbrough 3-0 Swansea City, Stoke City 2-2 Leicester City, Sunderland 1-0 Watford, West Ham United 1-0 Hull City, West Bromwich Albion 0-2 Manchester United, AFC Bournemouth 1-3 Southampton, Manchester City 2-1 Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Burnley, Everton 0-1 Liverpool FC

The final round of Premier League matches before Christmas 2016 saw 23 goals and the first managerial casualty of the season.

In a London derby, Chelsea and Crystal Palace got the weekend underway, with both sides in completely contrasting form. Palace had won just one match since the end of September, whilst Chelsea were chasing a 10th successive league victory. The league leaders were in impressive form and this was one of those matches where they weren’t quite at their fluid best but still did enough to collect all three points. Diego Costa headed home the only goal in the Blues’ 1-0 victory at Selhurst Park. The Spaniard later collected his fifth yellow card of the season, so would miss the Boxing Day encounter with AFC Bournemouth, as would N’Golo Kante. It was the final straw for the Eagles’ hierarchy and five days after this result, Alan Pardew was sacked and replaced by survival specialist, Sam Allardyce.

Chelsea’s closest challengers remained Liverpool FC. Jurgen Klopp’s team protected second spot in the table after they won 1-0 in the Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park, which was the final fixture before Christmas. On a chilly Monday evening, the visitors’ struck late on through Sadio Mane to ensure the red side of Merseyside would hold the bragging rights over the festive period.

24 hours earlier, Manchester City made it back-to-back victories with a 2-1 success over Arsenal, who had now suffered successive defeats in the North West. Arsenal came flying out of the blocks and Theo Walcott put them ahead inside the first 10 minutes. However, Leroy Sane’s first Premier League goal and Raheem Sterling’s effort ensured the three points would stay in Manchester.

Tottenham were quietly going about their business. They beat Burnley 2-1 at White Hart Lane and Manchester United made it three wins in six days, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic the pivotal difference in their 2-0 victory at The Hawthorns over West Bromwich Albion.

At the wrong end of the table and West Ham United collected a second win in four days at the London Stadium but there was plenty of fortune about their 1-0 win over fellow relegation strugglers, Hull City. Hull hit the woodwork three times and the Hammers’ fans were so fed up with their team’s performance, they voted for the post as their Man of the Match on social media! Mark Noble’s penalty saw them take three lucky points.

Sunderland claimed a 1-0 triumph at home to inconsistent Watford. Patrick van Aanholt scored the solitary goal. It would be the Dutchman’s last in Sunderland colours. The full-back would move acrimoniously to Crystal Palace in the January transfer window. It would also turn out to be Sunderland’s last home victory in league football in 364 days, before a recent 1-0 win over Fulham in the SkyBet EFL Championship.

Elsewhere, Middlesbrough recorded their biggest win of the season, beating hapless Swansea City 3-0 and despite losing Jamie Vardy to a red card before half-time, defending champions Leicester City came back from two goals down to rescue a 2-2 draw away to Stoke City. Claudio Ranieri’s side though still hadn’t won away from the King Power Stadium in their title defence season.

What else happened in December 2016?

  • Aged 53, George Michael died on Christmas Day. One of the best-selling music artists of all-time, he had sold more than 115 million records worldwide.
  • Andy Murray wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year for the third time in four years.
  • The remains of Tim Peake’s spacecraft are bought by the UK with the intention of installing it at the Science Museum in London in 2017.
  • After 30 years with ITN, Mark Austin presents his final news bulletin with ITV. He will join Sky News as the main correspondent for the USA.
  • Among the recipients in the New Years’ Honours List are Ken Dodd who is knighted and actress Helen McCrory, who receives an OBE.
  • Gogglebox’s Scarlett Moffatt wins the ITV reality show, I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!”
  • Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, is assassinated in Ankara.
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Iconic Moments: Phil Brown’s half-time dressing down (December 2008)

Hull City were a breath of fresh air into the Premier League in the early weeks of the 2008-2009 season. They won on the opening weekend at home to Fulham and then pulled off a famous London away double in successive weekends against Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. They even were joint-top in late October after a 3-0 away triumph at West Bromwich Albion.

By Boxing Day, results had dried up slightly but the Tigers’ still sat in a creditable seventh spot in the table – only behind the traditional big four teams plus Aston Villa and Everton. They travelled to Manchester City, hoping to pull off another away scalp. This trip won’t be remembered for a shock result though.

Mark Hughes’ side were rampant in the first half and led at the interval 4-0. Stephen Ireland was in sparkling form, setting up three of the goals as Felipe Caicedo (2), Robinho and Shaun Wright-Phillips all found the back of the net. Hull were simply not at the races and manager Phil Brown was incensed with their opening 45 minutes.

So, rather than take out his fury behind closed doors, he took his players over to the supporters at the visiting end of the ground and furiously berated them for everyone to see. This must have been public humiliation for the players as Brown was seen wagging his finger at various individuals for several minutes. They did improve in the second half but still lost the game 5-1. Afterwards, Brown defended his decision to carry out his team talk in the public eye. He told the BBC: “I thought it was nice and cold and I thought I would keep the boys alive because they looked as if they were dead. Our 4,000 travelling fans deserved some kind of explanation for the first half performance and it was difficult for me to do that from the confines of a changing room. We owed them an apology for the first half performance.”

That decision seemed to have a negative effect on the rest of Hull’s season. They won just one more match all campaign in the Premier League and only managed to avoid relegation by a single point.

A year later, Hull returned to Eastlands and performed far better to leave with a 1-1 draw. Jimmy Bullard’s penalty ensured they would return to east Yorkshire with a point and he decided to mimic Brown’s team talk in a hilarious celebration that luckily, everyone saw the funny side of!

Premier League Rewind: 7th-9th December 1996

Results: Arsenal 2-2 Derby County, Chelsea 2-2 Everton, Coventry City 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City 1-1 Blackburn Rovers, Liverpool FC 0-1 Sheffield Wednesday, Middlesbrough 0-0 Leeds United, Southampton 0-1 Aston Villa, Sunderland 1-3 Wimbledon, West Ham United 2-2 Manchester United, Nottingham Forest 0-0 Newcastle United

The first full weekend of December’s programme in the 1996-1997 season threw up some interesting results in a season when none of the elite sides seemed happy to take complete control of the title race.

Going into the weekend, it was Arsenal who were top of the table and all this less than two months since Arsene Wenger had been installed as the new manager at Highbury. They nearly came up a cropper at home to newly-promoted Derby County. Dean Sturridge scored a stunning goal for the Rams’ and going into stoppage time; they were 2-1 infront. Patrick Vieira rescued a point for the leaders and they stayed top of the table thanks to other results.

Liverpool FC could have gone top with that result but they missed the opportunity with a first home defeat of the season. Sheffield Wednesday went to Anfield and recorded an impressive 1-0 victory in a fine campaign for David Pleat’s side that saw them finish in the top seven. Guy Whittingham’s 22nd minute goal was the winning effort on Merseyside.

Newcastle United’s winless run stretched to four matches following a goalless draw with bottom-placed Nottingham Forest on Monday Night Football. Kevin Keegan’s side had failed to cash in on their fabulous 5-0 victory over Manchester United. It was just one win in six matches in the league since.

Manchester United’s form and confidence had taken a significant knock since the Newcastle result. They had returned from a successful trip to Vienna in midweek which had seen the club just about progress to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League. Perhaps the travelling caught up with them in the Super Sunday clash at Upton Park with West Ham United. David Beckham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer put them 2-0 up with 15 minutes to go but the Hammers’ rallied to take a spirited point. Florian Raducioiu had a miserable time in east London but his goal in this match was a rare highlight.

All this meant that Wimbledon moved into second spot in the table. Having lost their first three matches, Joe Kinnear’s side were on a club-record unbeaten run which had included a seven-game winning sequence in early autumn. Dean Holdsworth scored the pick of the goals in their latest win; a 3-1 triumph at Roker Park over Sunderland.

There was a landmark reached at The Dell where Southampton played Aston Villa. In the 34th minute, Andy Townsend scored the only goal of the game to earn all three points for Villa. That might not sound remarkable but it was the Premier League’s 5000th goal. Chris Sutton has tried to claim that mark as he scored at almost the same time of Blackburn’s 1-1 draw at Leicester City but records show his goal was registered in the 33rd minute, one minute earlier than Townsend’s winner on the south coast.

Lastly, Gianfranco Zola scored his first Premier League goal in Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Everton. The Italian had arrived from Serie A and a trademark free-kick was the first of many magical moments in a Chelsea shirt.

What else happened in December 1996?

  • Kofi Annan is elected as Secretary-General of the United Nations.
  • Apple Computers buys out Steve Jobs’ company, NeXT. Apple was of course co-founded by Mr Jobs.
  • The largest strike in South Korean history begins.
  • Unemployment in the UK falls below two million for the first time since John Major became Prime Minister.
  • Damon Hill becomes only the third person to win BBC Sports Personality of the Year twice.